Henry Carter Adams
Born(1851-12-31)December 31, 1851
DiedAugust 11, 1921(1921-08-11) (aged 69)
EducationJohns Hopkins University (Ph.D.)
Iowa College (LL.D.)
OccupationEducator (Economist)
Years active1880–1921
EraPolitical Economy and finance
Known forStudies about economics, especially public debts

Henry Carter Adams (December 31, 1851 – August 11, 1921) was a U.S. economist and Professor of Political Economy and finance at the University of Michigan.[1][2]

Early years

Adams was born in Davenport, Iowa on December 31, 1851, son of Ephraim Adams and Elizabeth S.A. Douglass, and grandson of Ephraim Adams, of New Ipswich, New Hampshire.[3] His father was a missionary of the "Iowa Band" from New England. He graduated from Iowa College in 1874,[3] now called Grinnell College, which was co-founded by his father.[4] Adams's middle name Carter acknowledged a benefactor of Grinnell College.[5]

He was superintendent of schools at Nassau, Iowa, from 1874 to 1875, and became fellow of political economy at Johns Hopkins University, from 1876 to 1889.[3] He went to Andover Theological School in 1878, then studied at Heidelberg, Berlin, and at the Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques in Paris, from 1878 to 1879.[3] He received the degree Ph.D., from Johns Hopkins in 1878, and the honorary degree LL.D. from Iowa College in 1898.[3][6] Adams' degree was one of the first four PhDs to be awarded by Hopkins, which opened in 1876.[7]


Adams became a lecturer at Cornell, from 1880 to 1883, and associate professor of political science there, from 1883 to 1887, also lecturer on political science at the University of Michigan, from 1880 to 1887, and professor of political economy and finance there from 1887 until his death.[3] He also became a lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University from 1880 to 1882. While at Cornell, he delivered an address on "The Labor Problem," which resulted in his dismissal from the Cornell faculty when a critic accused him of "sapping the foundations of our society."[8] In his first year at Michigan he becoming head of the newly created Department of Economics. "For him economics was more than a study of data and statistics; he saw it as the very bone and sinews of our national life...."[9] At Michigan, he also worked with John Dewey.

He was appointed statistician of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887 and was in charge of the transportation department in the eleventh U.S. Census, 1890.[3] He was elected a member of the International Statistical Institute, was president of the American Economic Association, from 1895 to 1897, vice-president of the American Statistical Association, secretary of the Michigan Political Science Association, and served as associate editor of the International Journal of Ethics.[3]

Personal life

In 1890, he married Bertha Wright of Port Huron and they had three sons, Henry Carter Adams Jr., later with the International Mercantile Marine at New York City, Dr. Theodore W. Adams, later on the staff of Doctor Reuben Peterson, and Thomas H. Adams, a senior in the University of Michigan.[9]

Adams died on August 11, 1921, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.[9]


He published:[3][9]


  1. ^ Data and picture
  2. ^ First page of extensive biography
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Johnson 1906, p. 40
  4. ^ Eisenach, Eldon J. The Social and Political Thought of American Progressivism. Hackett. ISBN 9781603843546. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
  5. ^ "Memorial to Former President Henry C. Adams". The American Economic Review. 12 (3): 401–416. September 1922. JSTOR 1803145.
  6. ^ Johns Hopkins University archives, June 13, 1878: Doctors of Philosophy.
  7. ^ French, John C. (1946). A History of the University Founded by Johns Hopkins. Baltimore: JHU Press. p. 340.
  8. ^ University of Michigan: The Michigan Alumnus 520-524
  9. ^ a b c d University of Michigan: The Michigan Alumnus 12
  10. ^ James, Edmund J. (1887). "Review of Outline of Lectures upon Political Economy". Political Science Quarterly. 2 (1): 186–188. doi:10.2307/2139332. ISSN 0032-3195. JSTOR 2139332.


Academic offices Preceded byJohn B. Clark President of the American Economic Association 1895–1897 Succeeded byArthur T. Hadley